Saturday, December 12, 2009

Merry Christmas - there I said it!

There is nothing like Christmas. No other holiday, no other time of the year, has the same intensity, passion, cultural and economic impact, and the same extreme polarities of contradictions. While it's the "most wonderful time of the year" for most people, for many it's the most stressful, depressing, and anxious month to get through of the entire year. It's a time of joy, singing, shopping, and giving, but it's also a time that amplifies for many, their losses, their broken relationships, and their loneliness. It's full of contradictions, but then it's driven by human beings who are full of contradictions. "Peace on earth and good will toward men" doesn't seem to be on the minds of uptight shoppers, dragging screaming kids through Target, complaining about long lines, and taking it out on the check-out clerk. Still, for most people, you can see a clear sense of having fun, being happy, and enjoying family. For most, it truly is a wonderful season of giving.
There's probably no place where there is more neurosis about Christmas than at church. I remember the first time I heard that there were members of the church who didn't celebrate Christmas because it was "a man made holiday, and Jesus really wasn't born on Dec.25th." I was dumbfounded and responded with the deeply theological rebuttal of "So what!" Because of the few, and our pattern driven legalistic heritage, we've always felt that we had to "keep separated" from what the world (and the other 99% of the congregation) was doing. Decorations, Christmas songs, and even saying "Merry Christmas" was something we had to use and do carefully and diplomatically. Sorry, but I find it humorous and ironic, that so many in the church are screaming about the anti-Christmas-be politically correct-call it something neutral trend that is threatening our social traditions.
I've said it many times, but I am thrilled that so many people all over the world are going to be spending a little bit of time thinking about Jesus and why God sent Him to this world. No, it's not everybody, yes - it's too commercialized, and yes - the story isn't told right, the date is wrong, and not everyone is feeling "Joy to the world." I'm still thankful for those who think about Him, sing about Him, pray to Him, and praise God for His birth. Even with the stress, the commercializing, and the church Grinch's, with all this attention and love being shown to the Son of God and thanking God for sending Him, how can it not make God smile?

1 comment:

Deborah said...

Your first paragraph sounds like the summary of Pat's sermon for today--incredible!!!